Federal Way resident Ted Colby ran down South 320th Street in a baby costume on a recent Thursday afternoon – all for a good cause.
Colby agreed to wear the outfit if his friends and family helped him collect at least 4,000 diapers for the local March of Diapers drive.
“I was thinking it would be a tough goal to meet,” Colby said. “I put a picture of the diaper costume (on Facebook) and was like, I am going run up 320th in this if we can reach the goal. Literally like seven days later, we were at 6,000 diapers. It was a strong, motivating factor.”
All told Colby, collected 20,500 diapers, nearly a third of the 66,272 brought in during the month-long drive.
Last year, Colby heard about the diaper drive organized by Cheryl Hurst. He decided to collect donations for his birthday, which is also in March.
“On a whim, I was like, I will do the ‘hey it’s my birthday, here is this fun thing’ and kind of rile up the crowd,” he said. “I don’t remember exactly how much we got, but for a week’s work, Cheryl was like ‘oh my gosh. This is what other sites did in a month.’”
When this year’s drive started, Hurst approached Colby about wearing the costume.
“I kind of pride myself on being goofy,” he said. “I was like ‘all right, but we have make it worthwhile.’”
Colby rallied his troops – friends and family on social media – and the donations began pouring in, both locally and from across the country and globe. He said he enjoyed reconnecting with friends through the drive.
“Every day or so another friend is coming in, and I get to chat with them while they make a donation,” Colby said. “If they came in, I would take their picture. If they didn’t come in, if they were far away, I would poach a picture off Facebook and be like ‘here is this person and some of the cool things they are doing.’ I would kind of get to highlight people as we did the running total.”
Colby said he appreciated the support of his employer, Kurt Kwon State Farm, in allowing him to use the office as a diaper collection site.
“In this office, every wall up to my height was covered,” Colby said of the number of donations that filled his workspace.
On April 12, Colby, dressed in the diaper costume and ran 5 miles, starting at Hoyt Road and South 320th Street, heading east on 320th to South King Fire and Rescue Station 64, where there was a reception. Selina Woody, who rode a bike alongside Colby, also dressed in a diaper costume.
The pair was encouraged by supporters along the way.
“We got a lot of honks from random people and from people who knew we would be there,” Colby said.
Colby plans to participate in the drive again next year.
“The number (of diapers) required for my shame is going to go up substantially from this year,” he said. “We always want to motivate growth and improvement.”
He hopes more people join him next year.
“I’ve already recruited a few new diaper runners that are better looking than me,” he said. “I am thinking for next year we are going to have to get five or 10 people and have them go into their own groups and their own circles and go ‘all right guys, we got to hit our target goal.’ It will be a buy-in thing, a badge of honor. If you get to run in a diaper, it will mean you got enough diapers.”
Hurst said she appreciates Colby’s involvement in the efforts.
“He just has these crazy fun ways to get people to come to this office,” she said.
Colby can always been counted on to help where there’s a need, Hurst said.
“He is one of those guys that you just know you are in good hands and you know something is going to be done right. He is just a very dependable person,” Hurst said.
In addition to the diaper drive, Colby is an Advancing Leadership alum and active in his church, St. Vincent De Paul.
“It really became like a second home for us,” he said of the church, where his children Alanis, 9, and Donovan, 7, go to school and his wife, Heidi Colby Sanchez, works.
Colby volunteers with the youth at the church and leads annual mission trips to Tijuana in partnership with Esperanza International to help build houses. He spent a year volunteering as an onsite coordinator with the organization, which is when he met his wife.
“I am a firm believer that we should serve in our community first, but when you get away from everything you know, you can explore yourself a lot better,” he said. “I love getting people as far as we can from everything to be able to dive into themselves.”